Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

can you imagine if this happened in the US?

Monday, December 17th, 2007

national pride in Syria-2carved on marblenational pride in Syrianational pride in Syria

Do you know who this guy is? We didn’t, either. But from the moment we crossed the border into Syria, we got a crash course. It is not possible to walk more than 20 feet without seeing a poster, picture, billboard, marble portrait, or car decal of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

FYI. The same type of “marketing” was true for King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein while we were in Jordan.

Magic Bus

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

crazy magic mystery city bus of Damascus-2

No one could tell us why, but the public buses in Damascus all look like this. They are made by Scania and I haven’t been able to find any info on the internet either. We saw a bunch of them parked at the gate to the old city and thought there must be a convention in town or something. It probably helped that I am currently reading a book called “Magic Bus” about the old hippie trail from Istanbul to India. Anyway, we both hopped on board and started taking pictures, asking the driver where he was going and how he had managed to score such a crazy looking ride, and in perfect condition too!. He must have thought we were absolutely nuts, because not only did he not understand English, but this was basically the #8 uptown bus and he was just waiting to start his route when a couple of camera wielding tourists hop on and start asking if he’s on his way to Kathmandu. He was friendly though, and even showed us how all the lights on the front still work!

Omayad Mosque

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

tomb of John the Baptist in the Umayad Mosquewearing special clothes in the mosqueIn the heart of the old city in Damascus is the Omayad Mosque, built in 705ad. The mosque is visited by Muslims and Christians who come to visit the tomb of John the Baptist. Before I could enter the mosque to check it out, I had to put on “special clothes.” The mosque was quite large, and had beautiful gold mosaics depicting paradise.

Run for the border

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

At the last minute we decided to visit Syria. We didn’t know that much about it, except that it’s part of the junior varsity axis of evil, and Damascus is the oldest city on earth. Every travel blog and forum we read told us to ignore whatever preconceptions we had and go because the people are extremely friendly and there is lots of cool stuff to see. The only hurdle was that we didn’t have a visa. We also read that this wouldn’t be a problem if we were willing to wait 5 or 6 hours for them to fax a visa request to Damascus. In fact, it would be only $16 for the visa at the border, as opposed to if we had planned in advance and got one in the US for $100. Yeah procrastination!

The border guard was very friendly and told us he didn’t know how long it would take, but we could hang out in the coffee shop. We debated about whether to wait things out there, or get a room at the conveniently located hotel right at the border and retrieve our passports in the morning. The decision was made for us abruptly as we got a taste of Bedouin revenge. It hit me first and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. Christine got it the next morning, and both of us were in pretty bad shape the rest of the day. I don’t think there’s a need to go on here, but feel free to email for more details if you are interested.